Holy Cross Church in South Portland has merged with St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough and St. Bartholomew Church in Cape Elizabeth to create the new St. John Paul II Parish. Monsignor Paul Stefanko, current pastor of the three parishes, said that the average parishioner will not notice any major changes. Courtesy photo of Dave Guthro

Courtesy photo of Dave Guthro

On July 1, St. Bartholomew Church in Cape Elizabeth, and St. John, Holy Cross Church in South Portland, and St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Scarborough merged to form the new St. John Paul II Parish.

Monsignor Paul Stefanko, current pastor of the three churches, will continue to serve St. John Paul II Parish, said an announcement from Dave Guthro, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Most parishioners will not notice any major changes, Stefanko said. However, the new website for the parish will be www.jp2me.org, and websites for the individual parishes will redirect to this link.

The merger will benefit each of the three previous parishes, allowing for a stronger connection, Stefanko said.

“Our Mass schedule will not change and our faith formation programming will remain the same with new programs under consideration,” he said. “This is not a financial decision as we have no debt in any of our parishes at this time. This is an opportunity to connect three strong and proud parishes together under a spiritual name and to maximize our resources to help people grow in their faith.”

Dr. Terry Gray, a St. Bartholomew representative on the pastoral council that serves all three parishes, said that it seemed like a “reasonable time” to complete the process.

“Our family celebrates Mass at all three worship sites. The formation of St. John Paul II Parish with three different churches actually brings us closer together,” said Gray.

Susie DeGrinney, a parishioner of St. Maximilian Kolbe, said that she is happy with the idea of honoring St. John Paul II through the parish.

Pope John Paul II was elected to the Vatican in 1978 and served as pope until his death in 2005, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website said. He was officially canonized as a saint in 2014.

The merger of the three parishes will allow each to operate more efficiently, said Dick Sawyer, a member of the finance council at St. John and Holy Cross Parish.

“As with any merger, people will be anxious as to how this will impact their particular church,” he said. “The fact is that this merger into one parish actually strengthens our overall positions, notwithstanding the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all parishes throughout the diocese.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough was established in 1988, according to the merger’s announcement. St. Bartholomew Parish in Cape Elizabeth was established in 1968, and Holy Cross Church was established in 1911.

“St. John the Evangelist Parish was formed in 1926,” the announcement said. “The two became St. John and Holy Cross Parish in South Portland in 2013 upon the closing of St. John Church.”

The three churches will keep their original names.

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